A quick cold is caught through contact with an infected person or by touching a surface contaminated with a cold virus and then touching the nose or mouth, according to WebMD. Common surfaces that possess cold viruses include keyboards, doorknobs and eating utensils. The virus infects people by attaching to the lining of their throats or noses, and the body's immune response to the virus causes the symptoms.
The symptoms of a cold include itching, sneezing, sore throat and mucus drainage. WebMD notes that if these symptoms are accompanied by a high fever and muscle aches, the illness is most likely the flu. According to WebMD, becoming chilled or wet does not cause the common cold. However, there are several aggravating factors that can make a person more susceptible to catching a cold, including excessive fatigue, emotional distress and allergies. The common cold is defined as a set of symptoms affecting the upper respiratory tract caused by a number of viruses. Although more than 200 viruses cause the common cold, most cases are caused by the rhinovirus (10 to 40 percent), coronavirus (20 percent) and respiratory syncytial virus (10 percent). WebMD notes that the CDC estimates that Americans suffer over 1 billion colds annually, and children miss over 22 million days of school due to the common cold.